One of the best things about the holiday season in London is the winter carnivals, and none are as big or as grand as Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Full of rides, markets, cafes, drinks, games, and shows, there are an endless number of things to do. While it may seem like Winter Wonderland has always been a part of London life, it’s actually a fairly recent addition to the City’s Christmas festivities. We’ll take you through the history of how the Winter Wonderland carnival became a success and what all you can do there.
Winter Wonderland got its start in 2005 as a small funfair held in Hyde Park but wasn’t terribly successful. After two years of lackluster attendance, the Royal Parks turned over management of the carnival to AEG Live and PWR Events. The two organizations cooperated to transform Winter Wonderland to include a market, big wheel, ice rink, and some amusement rides. In the subsequent years since the change in 2007, the funfair grew almost exponentially, adding the Bavarian Village, Santa Land, and Zippo’s Circus. By 2012, it had to request even more space to include roller coasters, the Magical Ice Kingdom, and the Great Hall for the Bavarian Village. More recently, a Halloween-style ride and experiences based on the show Teletubbies and the Christmas classic The Snowman were added.
However, as with most things, the COVID pandemic froze the funfair in its tracks, and it had to be canceled for 2020. Roughly a month ago, it was announced that Hyde Park Winter Wonderland would be making a return to 2021, though with safety precautions to help prevent the spread of the virus. This year’s funfair includes reduced capacity, staggered entry times, and greater sanitation throughout the event. For a mere £5 entry fee, you can get access to all the food, fun, and shows that you can stand from now through January 3. And with that, on to the events.
One of the primary reasons that anyone comes to Winter Wonderland is the rides. There are some classics like the WildMaus roller coaster, the Snow Jet, and the Giant Wheel. They’re joined by numerous other coasters and rides such as the Real Ice Slide, the flying elephants, the Santa Land Train, and the Helter Skelter spiral slide. If you really want to get thrown for a loop, you can get your adrenaline pumping on the Hangover drop tower, the XXL pendulum ride, and the Blizzard that spins riders 65 meters into the air.
Other attractions are definitely a must. Ice skating is a top activity for many, and for those wanting a spookier Christmas experience akin to the ghost stories once told at the holidays, you can take a tour through the funfair’s Haunted Mansion. The Irrgarten is a German-themed walkthrough attraction much like an old-school funhouse. Meanwhile, Santa Land is back as the closest thing you can get to a trip to the North Pole, complete with kids’ rides, Christmas-themed food, and a chance to meet Santa Claus himself. No matter what age you are, you can find an attraction that will help spur your festive holiday fun.
Lastly (and most importantly in my mind) there are the markets and shows as well as the food and beverages. Zippo’s Circus returns along with the wilder Cirque Berserk (think Cirque de Soleil). The Fire Pit is home to most live music shows, while you can catch music and drinks at the Explorer’s Rest Bar. Other places for a good drink include Thor’s Tipi, Arctic Lodge, Carousel Bar, and the Bavarian Village. Peruse the market stalls for those great holiday gifts and make sure you eat by visiting the street food village and restauranteur Jimmy Garcia’s alpine pop-up, The Refuge.
No matter what you choose to do, you’re sure to have a great time at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. So head out, enjoy the holiday goodness, and be safe.
Check out this video from Watched Walker in YouTube, where he walks through the 2021 Winder Wonderland.